As we make the transition out of the ‘start-up phase’ – which was marked by a focus on establishing the programme and making our work known to partners and stakeholders— the organisation has added a new team charged with ensuring the programme remains meaningful, effective and robust. 

Programme Assurance was created to provide stakeholders confidence that the ASC Standards are effectively implemented and audited. Members of the team are based in and near key areas including the Netherlands, the United States of America and Vietnam to cover the global scope of the programme as they perform their core duties, which include:

  • Continuously improving ASC  Certification and Accreditation methodologies to add more value to stakeholders
  • Training auditors to deliver audits that meet ASC intent and the market demand
  • Closely collaborating with ASI to effectively and efficiently oversee performance of accredited certification bodies and their auditors
  • Closely collaborating with the MSC – who runs the ASC Chain of Custody certification programme – to ensure product integrity
  • Constantly developing, implementing and improving tools and methodologies to deliver the above services. 

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Quality check of ASC Audit Reports

The Quality Assurance (QA) process ensures that all audit reports (i.e. certification, recertification and surveillance) meet the stated requirements in the ASC Certification and Accreditation Requirements (CAR) and are understandable to stakeholders. This review is currently being done for both the completeness (Level 1 check – L1) and the content related issues (Level 2 check – L2). 

This does not replace the responsibility of the Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) to perform their technical review of the audit reports. Periodic analysis of QA work per CAB is shared with the ASI for their oversight. 

L1 check
Every draft report  of initial and re-certification audits undergoes the L1 check and is only published when complete. If a report is not complete the Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) has to amend the report accordingly. The ASC publishes complete draft reports within five working days on the ASC website. 

L2 check
Stakeholders and interested parties, including the ASC, are invited to comment on the report for fifteen working days. During this public comment period a sample of reports undergo a detailed content check (L2) against defined criteria, with a focus on the quality of audit evidence and the conclusions drawn from this. The sample is selected based on risk factors including audit species, country and historic CAB performance. Once L2 is completed, a QA Report is sent to the CAB for their consideration as part of the stakeholder consultation. 

The CAB has to address all stakeholder comments in the final audit report. All reviews are compiled and periodically analysed to promote continuous quality improvement.

ASC shrimp product monitoring in Vietnam

In response to concerns on antibiotic contamination, the MSC on behalf of ASC will roll out a 12 month antibiotics sampling program on Vietnamese ASC shrimp at the first point of Chain of Custody (CoC).

From 1st August 2018, all CoC certificate holders operating in Vietnam that wish to handle ASC Whiteleg shrimp (L.vannamei) will be subject to inspection. Affected CoC companies in this instance shall allow the MSC or ASC, their certification body or a representative from the accreditation body to collect ASC certified products traceback records and samples for product authentication (as per clause 5.5 in CoC Standard v4.0).

As per the ASC Aquaculture Shrimp Standard v1.0, any product receiving medicated feed or antibiotic will not be authorised to carry the ASC label. In this case, contaminated products become non-eligible for sale as ASC, and should be handled following the Chain of Custody(CoC) Standard ‘non-conforming product procedure’.

To learn more about this work, please email Shen Yan Liow (, MSC Supply Chain Standards Manager for Southeast Asia.

Supplier monitoring tool

We are trialing a new web-based tool to collect certified product antibiotic test result data from a range of sources, including certificate holders, government databases and our own sampling.  Submissions are made confidentially into the online reporting tool by responding to several simple questions about the product tested and any antibiotic residue detected.

The results are held in a database, and on a quarterly basis the data is aggregated and reported back to the participating network of submitters. This allows participants to gain insights on trends of antibiotic detection across different suppliers, and avoid suppliers whose products tend to have positive results. Oversight of this information allows ASC to focus attention and resources to higher risk suppliers and products, ultimately improving programme assurance and certified product integrity. The tool is initially focused on antibiotic testing of certified shrimp products, however it is possible to enter results for other species as well.

If you are interested to participate in trialing the Supplier Monitoring Tool, please contact Wendy Banta on the ASC Programme Assurance Team.

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